LOS ANGELES, CA – Among a distinguished gathering the Navin & Pratima Doshi Bridgebuilder Award was presented to biologist and author Dr Rupert Sheldrake at Loyola Marymount University here on Sept 16.The award is given to ‘bridgebuilders’ who attempt to narrow the gap between science and spirituality,
There is a war waging at present between materialists and idealists like Sheldrake and Hagelin. Doshi described the two as‘freedom fighters’like Gandhi and King, who are fighting to free philosophy from the shackles of hard materialists. The stand taken by these idealists, implies an affirmation of the Vedantic tradition that there is an ultimate self-conscious reality, subjectively it is infinite bliss, and objectively an infinite in any quality and value that expresses and experiences itself.
Accepting the award , Sheldrake expressed gratitude saying it was a great honor to be recognized for his work which focuses on unknown facts about plants and the unique and unexplained behavior of animals like homing pigeons. He has now extended his study to similar phenomena in people – like the sense of being stared at. In his keynote address he went on to talk about people in his life who were bridge builders saying he was always drawn and attracted to such people. He started off with his father , a herbalist and pharmacist in England who he said inculcated in him his love for plants and animals. A devout Methodist, his father saw no conflict between science and religion. Among the other bridge builders who impacted his life were Father Bede Griffiths who had an ashram in Tamil Nadu . Sheldrake lived for a year at the ashram where he wrote his first book ‘A New Science of Life.’ Reminiscing about his time in India with The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad he describes it as a ‘wonderful’ period of his life where he got to practice Transcendental Meditation and engage in Hindu and Sufi culture. Krishna Moorti was another bridge builder whom he met and spend great times with in Ojai. Apart from individuals he spoke of a bridge building group – the ‘Epiphany Philosophers’ who made him see things in a different light during his student days at Cambridge studying the behavior of plants.
In conclusion Sheldrake reiterated his position that the materialist worldview was falling apart with a whole range of possibilities of science opening up. The problem with scientist was they did not think they had a world view but the truth! With dogmatic assumptions now crumbling a new era of dialog and bridge building were in progress.
Continuing this thread of thought, John Hagelin, professor of physics at the Maharishi University in Iowa, debunked the notion of materialists that everything in the universe is ‘understood’. “They think they have the universe figured out, so don’t rock the boat,” . However, evolution of science is now starting to give an new insight into phenomenon like morphic resonance and quantum correlations which is earlier years were taboo. He lauded the Doshi award for celebrating the ‘unconventional and bold.’
Eric Strauss LMU President’s professor of biology serving as director of the Center for Urban Resilience, spoke about his research on coyotes and the bigger question of thinking and consciousness in animals and ecology.
The program wrapped up with a conversation between Sheldrake, Hagelin and Strauss after which a lively Q& A session followed in which the audience was given a chance to engage with the speakers.